Saturday, September 28, 2013

Endre Blog Tour: ST Bende guest post

Hei hei, y’all. I’m ST Bende, and I love IndyCar racing, McVities cookies, and all things Scandinavian (except for fish).  I write New Adult stories based on Norse mythology, and I have a soft spot for a certain Swedish actor who may or may not bear a striking resemblance to Elsker’s hero, Ull. What, we don’t all base our heroes on our True Blood crushes? Oops. ;)

I wrote The Elsker Saga as one very long entry in my journal. When I decided to publish it, Really Long Journal Entry (my fab working title) was split into two books -- ELSKER and ENDRE.  Though ENDRE now kicks off with a dream set in Jotunheim, my initial effort at splitting the books started off with a more lighthearted scene. I thought y’all might get a kick out of seeing ENDRE’s original opener; the considerably sillier interaction between The Elsker Saga’s heroine, Kristia, and her Cardiff University flatmates, Emma and Victoria. Skal!

“Please tell me you’re joking Kristia.  Are you quite certain those will be all the clothes you need?”  My flatmate Victoria sat on the edge of my bed, critically eyeing my open suitcase.  “It’s so… tiny.”
“Victoria,” I rolled my eyes and tossed in a second pair of jeans.  “I’m only going for three days.  And I already have some stuff there.  I keep basics in my room, just in case.” 
“Still sleeping in the guest room, eh?”  My other flatmate Emma pursed her lips from my desk chair.
“Still engaged to the world’s most traditional guy, if that’s what you’re asking.”  I shot her a look.
“Pity,” Victoria radiated disappointment.  “Well, soon enough.”
“Right.  Soon enough.”  My stomach churned just saying the words.  Three months and two weeks from today I’d be married to a guy who was more myth than man.  I wasn’t ready to think about our honeymoon just yet.
“Well fine.  If you’re absolutely positive this is all the clothing you’ll need for three days in the country with the hottest guy on campus…” Victoria pulled a silk scarf from behind her back and dangled it over my bag.  “Then I suppose you won’t be needing this.”
“Oh my gosh!”  I grabbed at it and fingered the delicate fabric.  “This is amazing.  Where did you get it?” 
Victoria shrugged.  “It’s one of the pieces they let me design for the fall line.  I thought it would match your charcoal sweater, but if you don’t need it…”
I pulled the sweater from my suitcase and held up the scarf.  “It’s perfect.  Thanks Victoria.  I’ll take good care of this for you.”
“Keep it,” Victoria waved her hand.  “It’s a sample.” 
“I wasn’t sure in the beginning, but it really is nice living with a fashion major.”  I folded the scarf and carefully placed it on the top of my case. 
“Please,” snorted Emma from the corner of the room.  “You’ve lived with her all of five months.  Try putting up with her for nearly four years!” 
Emma and Victoria had been flatmates since their first year at Cardiff University in Wales.  Though they teased each other mercilessly, they were the best of friends.  I’d joined them in the Student Houses the previous fall, when I’d transferred from a small college near my hometown of Nehalem, Oregon.  The feisty girls living in Unit 3 had quickly taken me under their wing, introducing me to McVitties caramel biscuits (loved them), Sports Wives (my favorite British television show), and curries (still on the fence). 
It was a cool Friday afternoon in February, and my fiancé Ull would be arriving to pick me up soon.  As they did most weekends, the girls were helping me pack before they headed out to spend the evening at their favorite dance club.  Dancing wasn’t exactly my forte - I was hardly the most graceful snowflake in the blizzard by any stretch of the imagination.  I much preferred spending the weekends at Ull’s country home in the Cotswolds.  Ýdalir was a gorgeous cottage that housed a big secret.  It was home base for Ull, Inga, Gunnar and Olaug; the Norse deities who opted to moonlight as three college students -- and one grandma -- rather than live like the gods they actually were in Asgard.   It didn’t make a lot of sense to me, but who was I to complain?  Ull’s residential preference meant I’d gotten the chance to fall in love with the Norse God of Winter, narrowly escaping the mind-numbing boredom of small-town life I’d known for all but the last five months of my twenty years.  Study abroad had seemed like an innocent enough way to expand my horizons.  Of course, I had no idea the horizons extended so far beyond this universe. 
“I think that’s it.”  I gave the room a final once over and zipped my powder blue suitcase.  “Ull won’t be here for another thirty minutes.  Want me to help you do your hair, Em?”
“Ooh, yes.”  Emma jumped up from her chair, eyes shining.  “I just bought this.”  She zipped out of my room and came back holding a weird domed comb. 
“What is it?”
“It’s supposed to give you lift at your crown.  See?”  She demonstrated on her red hair, sticking the contraption in blindly.
“I don’t think that’s quite right,” Victoria tried not to laugh.
“Well obviously I can’t see it,” Emma rolled her eyes.  “But if you want to do that sparkly job with my eye shadow, I’m sure Kristia can figure this one out.”
“You’re the math major, Em,” I warned.  “Spatial awareness is your thing.  If you can’t do it I seriously doubt I’ll be able to.”
“Oh, tush.  You’ll work it through.  If you can land the legend who never asked out anyone in all the time he’s been at Cardiff, then I’m quite confident you can manage the Hair Helper.”
“The Hair Helper?”  Victoria raised one freshly waxed eyebrow.  “That’s the best they could come up with?  Have they no marketing department?”
I quickly covered my mouth.  Emma’s indignant expression didn’t need any more ribbing. 
“Come on ladies,” I ushered them into our flat’s tiny bathroom.  “Let’s make us a Hair Helper Hottie.”

 Endre by ST Bende

Book II of The Elsker Saga

Release: September 9, 2013
Genre: New Adult Paranormal Romance
Publisher: Entranced Publishing, Rush

Sometimes, finding your destiny means doing the exact opposite of what The Fates have planned.
Winning the heart of an immortal assassin was a dream come true for Kristia Tostenson. Now she’s knee deep in wedding plans, goddess lessons, and stolen kisses. But her decision to become immortal could end in heartbreak -- not only for Kristia, but for the god who loves her. Because while Ull would do anything to protect his bride, even the God of Winter is powerless against the Norse apocalypse. Ragnarok is coming. And the gods aren’t even close to ready.

Add it on Goodreads
Buy it on AmazonKobo and B&N  


Tour wide Rafflecopter

Review Snippets:

If you're looking for a different take on New Adult that has plenty of swoon-worthy moments, some nail-biting action, and a mythological world you can lose yourself in, this book is for you.”

WOW... just, wow! The main question or demand lol I have is... There better be more coming?!”

About the Author:

Before finding domestic bliss in suburbia, ST Bende lived in Manhattan Beach (became overly fond of Peet’s Coffee) and Europe… where she became overly fond of McVities cookies. Her love of Scandinavian culture and a very patient Norwegian teacher inspired the books of The Elsker Saga (TUR, ELSKER and ENDRE). She is an audio co-host of #NALitChat, and helps compile indie new releases for the USA Today HEA blog. She hopes her characters make you smile and that one day, pastries will be considered a health food.

Find ST on Twitter, her blog, or send her an e-mail. While you’re at it, introduce yourself to @UllMyhr -- when he’s not saving the cosmos from dark elves, he loves meeting new friends. Especially the human kind. 

Author social media links

Twitter: or @stbende
Email:  stbende(at)gmail(dot)com


“What do you want to know?” Ull lowered his sunglasses lazily and eyed me with a look that made my insides burn.
“Well,” I paused. “Uh… what am I supposed to do if I’m attacked?”
“You mean if this happened?” Ull launched himself off the chaise, wrapping one arm around my waist and dragging me across the beach. He cradled me in his arms and landed in the froth where the ocean met the shore.
“See? I’m totally defenseless?” I gazed up at him, my back pressed firmly against the wet sand. He hovered over me, supporting his weight on his forearms.
“I am afraid you are.” Piercing blue eyes locked in on mine. Between the depth of his stare and the heat from his abs, I forgot everything else.
“Um …” I bit my bottom lip.
Ull tilted his head to one side, a small smile playing at one corner of his mouth. “Now what did you want to know?”
“I--” I broke off as a wave washed over us. The warm saltwater lapped up to my waist then retreated, leaving a film of sand over my legs.
“You were asking me how to defend yourself?” Dangit, it was hard to focus with Ull’s dripping body pressing against mine. Yes, I wanted whatever it was I’d asked about. Self-defense, right. But there was something else I wanted more.
I bent my knee and twined my calf around Ull’s. I shifted my hips just an inch and stared into those endless blue eyes. They sparkled in the sunlight. My arms were trapped beneath his torso, so I turned my palms upward to touch the spot where his chest met his shoulders. It was so smooth, so firm, and so very, very warm. My eyes never left his as I moved my thumb along the line of his shoulder, down his biceps and down to the crook of his arm. I drew a slow circle inside his elbow and Ull blinked.
“Kristia,” he whispered.
“Yes?” I tried to reach up to stroke the stubble lining his square chin, but my arms were pinned.
“You are not trying to defend yourself.”
“So?” I raised my head and kissed his jaw. “Maybe I don’t feel like fighting you off.”
“Mmm,” Ull closed his eyes as I kissed my way up to his ear. “So if someone came after you, you would just let them do this?”
He swiftly rolled onto his back, forcing me on top of him. He shoved his fingers in my hair and tugged gently, pulling my head back. He kept the other hand just above the bottom of my bikini, firmly pressing my hips into his. I squirmed against the hold, trying to find a way out of his grip. Though I tactically had the upper hand, I couldn’t move.
“Well I wouldn’t let just anyone do this.”
“I should hope not,” he growled softly. He raked his teeth along my throat and paused at the hollow of my neck. “Because this could end very badly for you.” He ran his tongue along my collarbone. I shivered.
In a lightning-quick move, Ull flipped me onto my back and pinned my arms above my head with one hand. I gazed adoringly at the fierce assassin glowering over me. “And this. What would you do if someone did this to you?”
“Uh,” I blinked. If I told Ull what I really wanted to do right now, I’d turn every possible shade of crimson.
“Focus Kristia.” Ull stared at me. “What would you do if you were trapped?”
“I… uh… I’d,” I blushed. “You seriously want me to fight you off?”
“If you are so bent on going through with this little exercise, then yes. Give it your best shot. And then I believe, you promised to pay me for the lesson.”
“Gladly.” I narrowed my eyes and wrenched my arm as hard as I could. It didn’t budge. I tried again but it was futile.
“You are outmaneuvered and I am twice your weight. Try something else.” Ull commanded.
I threw my shoulder into his chest and tried to roll to one side.
“You cannot out-force me. Look at the difference in our masses. Think tactically, Kristia. What can you do that will debilitate me?”
My eyes widened. “You don’t want me to--”
“I want you to find a way to get me off you. Do what you have to do.”
I closed my eyes and raised a knee to his groin. Ull groaned and rolled off me.
“I’m so sorry! You said to--”
He raised a hand and waved at me, turning away.
“I’m sorry,” I repeated.
“That was good.” He rolled back with a grimace. “But if someone is bent on capturing you, they will come back for more. And quickly. Your next step should be to run.”
“If you want I can get some ice for--”
“Run, darling.” It was a threat. “Now.”

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Friday, September 27, 2013

GenreCon 2013

Me (in the middle) with authors Stacey Nash & K.A.Last
Networking turned into blogging pals into friendship

In two weeks time I’ll be kicking it with authors, agents, editors and other publishing industry peeps at the GenreCon opening night reception.

I’m really excited about this event, as it’s one of the most well rounded programs I’ve seen for a writers’ conference.  There is a lot of focus on the business of being an author, which in this day and age can be just as important as writing an amazing story. There’s an expectation in the publishing industry that authors will understand marketing, social media and self-promotion, which will include public speaking stints.

In this year’s conference program, as well as having the opportunity to learn more about the craft of writing,  you have the opportunity to find out more about:

·      Creating book trailers
·      Effectively reading an excerpt from your novel
·      Networking
·      Contracts and copyright
·      Self-publishing an ebook using Lean Pub
·      The future of genre fiction
·      How to maximize your daily word-count

I’ll be on the panel ‘Networking is not a dirty word’ on Saturday with Kate Eltham, Joel Naoum and Ellen Forsyth where we’ll be talking about how to effectively engage other people in the publishing industry without behaving like a creeper.

If you can make it to Brisbane 11-13 October, you should be at GenreCon. Hopefully I’ll see you there. Make sure you say hi. 

For those of you not going, what's your favourite thing about attending conferences. 

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Thursday, September 12, 2013

My #PitMad entry: Dirty Rainbow

This is my PitMad Twitter Pitch contest entry. I'm still finalising the full query as I will be querying it once Pitch Madness activities are over. Here are the twitter pitches I will be using and an excerpt. 

I hope you enjoy them.

Twitter pitches:

17yo Jenna is afraid of cyborgs. But she should be afraid of the people who ordered their existence them, like her mother. #PitMad

With men extinct, women have created utopia. 17yo Jenna discovers the price for a perfect society will cost her the one she loves. #PitMad

Jenna fears cyborgs. But she should fear the ones who made them because everything in her utopia home is recycled, even humans. #PitMad

With men extinct, women create utopia. For 17yo Jenna, perfect society crumbles when cyborgs take her BFF away because of her mum #PitMad

With men extinct, women created utopia. But for 17yo Jenna, perfection comes at the cost of her friend's life & it’s her mum’s fault #PitMad

Jenna knows the dirty secret of women’s success after men died out. Telling = destroys her mum’s career. Not telling = losing BFF & GF #PitMad

With men extinct, women created utopia. But when her friend disappears, Jenna finds paradise has a price & her mum's collecting. #PitMad

An accident takes her BFF. Cyborgs take her GF. But why did Jenna's mum want her memories erased? #PitMad

Jenna must free her best friend & girlfriend from her mother's cyborg-controlled facility before she loses them forever. #PitMad


Unity Mantra
From the mistakes of the past we create a better future. Through acquiescence we remain united and forge a prosperous tomorrow. We were once in the dark, but we now know the way and will remain on the path in the light. Together we will keep humanity strong, peaceful and united.

Family Mantra
Mothers keep us safe, Mothers keep us strong. Mothers know best and can do no wrong.

Chapter 1
A three letter word shouldn’t sting this much, but it does.
“Imp,” hisses Kiri Robyns as she shoulders into me. I try to deflect her jibe off me as she glides past, but her insult lingers on me like the pain in my arm.
“What did you say to her?” My best friend, Hetty, screeches to a halt.
For a moment Kiri and her glued-to-the-hip-side-kick, Rosetta, freeze. Wet clumps of hair stick to their foreheads and their hands tighten around their towels. They must be coming back from the water hole.
“Just leave it,” I murmur, pulling Hetty up towards the walking track that leads to the lookout.
The two of them laugh as they continue the opposite way to us, back towards New Canberra.
“Why don’t you stick up for yourself more? Or at least let me?” Hetty complains, as she does nearly every time some shallow person points out I’m an imperfect.
“Because it doesn’t matter,” I reply, between puffs as we start on the sharp incline. “If people are going to judge me on the colour of my eyes then –”
“They’re not worth it.” Hetty finishes my sentence for me as she’s heard me parrot this a thousand times or more. Her voice labours as well. “I seriously don’t understand it though. I would think that they would want to kiss your butt with your mum and all that.”
“Oh, is that why we’re friends?” I tease, knowing there’s no truth in it. “So you can suck up to the Australian Ambassador’s daughter?”
She sticks out her tongue then laughs. “You know what I mean, Jenna.”
I smile at her, and then groan as we hit the steps that lead to our destination. My whole lower body protests in pain at the halfway point. But it’s so worth it once we hit the top.
“Isn’t this beautiful?” sighs Hetty, looking out over the city. She stretches her arms up, pulling her T-shirt up above the hem of her shorts.
I smile. “For sure.” I love escaping up here, especially with Hetty, away from Mum and her diplomatic duties.
Below us, a forest of eucalypts surrounds our city. The songs of the magpies echo around us and the scent of blossoms lingers in the air. The cluster of houses and buildings in the distance looks so insignificant next to the bushland.
Hetty jumps up onto the safety wall that edges the lookout – the only barrier between us and the sheer cliff below. It’s not that high, just enough to stop kids from wandering straight off the edge.
“I wonder why more people don’t come up here? We always seem to have it to ourselves,” she ponders. “Apart from the occasional cyborg domestic unit checking the bins.” She gestures to the yellow rubbish disposal units that abut the barrier.
“Don’t know,” I shrug. “Maybe they don’t want to do the long walk?”
She balances on one foot, steadies herself, and leans forward. Her torso arches back, and she grabs her free leg from behind to create an elegant circle with her body, arms and leg. I wish I had taken gymnastics as an elective; she looks so poised and beautiful.
“Well, they don’t know what they’re missing.” Hetty lowers her leg and straightens up. “Do you think our kids will come up here?”
Our kids?! My heart skips a beat and my stomach drops as I freak out inside, tensing up all over. I don’t want to muck up what Hetty and I have with romance. I don’t see her that way. I’ve never seen anyone that way.  
“You know they’ll probably be best friends like us,” she says, her blue eyes smiling along with her mouth. All my muscles relax. Many people in our position become life partners, but I want romantic love like my parents, not just companionship. Though since men became extinct, many women opt for their best friend as their life partner and no one bats an eyelash.
Hetty takes a couple of steps then does a cartwheel on the wall.
My heart skips another beat. “Don’t do that, you might fall.” An image of her body bouncing off the cliff face like a ragdoll flashes through my mind. I edge closer to her.
“Don’t be silly. I do this move all the time in gymnastics class.” She moves a bit faster now and does a round-off, an elegant movement like a cartwheel but with her feet landing simultaneously. Her foot doesn’t come down flush on the wall and she wobbles, tipping over on the cliff side of the wall. I lunge and manage to grab her arm; mine feels like it nearly comes out of its socket. Hetty looks up at me as she dangles with nothing underneath her but air. My body doubles over the wall, her weight pulling me forward.
“Jenna! Don’t let me go!”
My arms start to burn under her weight and from the hot sun beating down on us both. I look down at my best friend with determination, my long brown hair spilling over my shoulders. I will not drop her. She will not fall.
“Hetty, I need you to use your legs. Push against the rocks with them. When I pull, you need to walk your way up to me. I can’t do it without you. Ready?”
 Hetty looks up at me, her eyes wild with fear. But she nods. I try to block out the jagged rocks that jut out sporadically down the cliff face and the tree-laden ground some hundred metres below.
“Okay. One, two, THREE!”
I pull with all my might and Hetty begins taking tentative steps. Sweat trickles down my arms and onto my already clammy hands. My blue tank-top shows my strain with damp patches. The concrete barrier to the lookout digs into my hips through the thin material of my leggings. She straightens up as I pull her towards the safety wall with a giant heave. Her arms are now level with the wall and she reaches for the ledge with one hand. But before she has secured her grip on it, she slips from my other hand.
“Hetty!” My scream echoes through the valley, accompanied by her cries of terror, then a sickening thump. Still calling her name, I look over the edge and see her body crumpled on a ledge some thirty metres below. Her short blonde hair, normally immaculately styled, is matted with blood. Her brown legs protrude from her dark shorts at awkward angles. Sickening dark splotches cover her blue t-shirt.
I tap my communiqué earpiece. “Emergency assistance.” The words burn my throat, which is hoarse from yelling.
“This is emergency assistance. Please state the nature of your situation,” says a chirpy voice. 
“My friend, she’s fallen. She’s hurt.” Words don’t come coherently.
“Tracking your position now. An emergency response unit will be with you soon. Please advise the injured party’s name?”
“Hetty – Hetty Phillipas.” I want to scream the words, but reel myself in.
“Are you able to reach the injured party?” the Communicator asks.
I grimace. “No, she’s too far down.”
“Please advise what you can see in relation to the injured party.” The cheery disposition continues, and bugs the crap out of me. How can she be so blasé about this? Then the penny drops – because that’s how she’s programmed to be. I try not to think about the fact that I’m talking to a cyborg.
I force myself to look at over the edge again. “Hetty, can you hear me?” There’s no response. Not even a groan. I can’t see her moving at all.  Just blood. “No. Nothing. She’s not moving.”
“Your heart rate is rising to an unhealthy zone. Please stay calm and the emergency response unit will be there soon. Initiate your deep breathing techniques to reduce your heart rate.”
I want to yell at the Communicator that I don’t want to calm down, but I comply, steadying myself on the concrete wall and inhale deeply through my nose. The air smells tainted. I exhale slowly, like an extended sigh, and give in to the meditation.  My senses shut down and there is only me – and the memory of what just happened, her body falling, her eyes pleading, the scream echoing.
It’s counter-productive, but I peek over the edge once I’ve finished. The view over to the ledge hasn’t changed. Hetty is as still as a mangled statue. I slump to the ground, my knees bent before me like a shield with my arms locking around them as protection for my head. It should be silent at a sombre moment like this, but the trill song of bush birds, the occasional laughter of kookaburras and the continuous buzzing of insects fill the void.
The events replay over and over again in my mind. Every scenario I try to keep her safe still results in her falling.
The whooshing sound of the emergency response unit’s transporter brings me back to the here and now. Three Carer cyborgs alight from the transporter and two come straight toward me.
“Jenna McBride?” Her voice is low, calm and soothing. I still stiffen.
“Yes.” I try not to stare at the bald head. Even without hair, her face is beautiful. Her green eyes look at me vacantly.
“Where is Hetty Phillipas?” My hand gestures towards the concrete safety wall skirting the edge of the cliff. “Please make your way to the transporter for Carer assessment.”
I nod numbly and begin walking over, turning back briefly to watch her vault over the wall. There’s a soft thump as she hits the ground below. Soft moaning rises from over the edge. I block it out and focus on the shiny green transporter, taking slow and careful steps like Hetty should have as she balanced on the wall. The second Carer passes me. My eyes linger on her identification tattoo – 384V.
“Jenna McBride, please stand still for your well-being analysis,” instructs the third one once I reach the transporter. She has the same face – like all Carers do - but grey eyes.
My body goes rigid as the cyborg holds a scanner in front of me. The blue beam trails up and down my body, looking for imperfections, impurities and anything else that would cause me harm. A soft tingle flutters through me. 392V – a higher number on her identification number indicates that she’s younger.
“Your blood-pressure is elevated and your body is showing signs of shock.” The grey-eyed Carer hands me a small container. “In here is your Recovery Tea. Consume it as per the instructions. Continue your meditation daily as well to ensure a swift healing.”
A swooshing sound from behind me causes me to turn and I catch sight of the bald head of the third cyborg disappearing over the edge. My mind races; we’ve come up to this lookout so many times, sat on the concrete safety wall surveying New Canberra below and laughing about the girls at school. It was our weekly ritual – our best friend alone time. We’ve never given much thought to the sharp cliff face the barrier protected us from. It’s always been a safe place for us. Now I wonder if we felt too secure. Maybe Hetty wouldn’t have been showing off.
“Your parental units have been notified and are awaiting your return to your dwelling. Please enter the transporter.” Her voice isn’t as peppy as the Communicator’s was earlier.
“But I have to make sure she’s okay.” My desperation rises at the thought of leaving without her.
“We are not leaving until Hetty Phillipas is secure. However, your assessment shows a need for calm.  Wait in the transporter and we will leave once the injured party is retrieved.”
The urgency subsides, but I stand my ground.
“Please comply,” she cocks her bare head, “as it is undesirable to restrain you.”
I glare into the vacant grey eyes, but it’s pointless to argue. The cool seats provide welcome relief against as the material makes contact with my skin. The Carer reaches into the front and presses a button. The scent of lavender wafting through the air follows. I inhale deeply and feel calmer immediately.
It feels like only moments later that the rear doors close, with Hetty inside, I assume, and the three cyborgs enter the cab of the transporter.
“Is she going to be okay?” I ask the one that has to sit in the back seat with me. Hetty and I have been friends my whole life. After seventeen years, I can’t imagine a day without her.  
She turns her duplicate face to me, her purple eyes staring hard, her tattoo 384V marring her otherwise perfect features. “She will recover.”
Her words give me some relief, but no comfort.

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